S.F. Jury Resolves Drunken Lover's Quarrel at Local Bus Station

Categories: Local News

Ernie is always bitching at Bert
A San Francisco jury decided that a local woman was not guilty of domestic violence when she struggled to get her drunk boyfriend to board a Greyhound bus bound for Sacramento.

On Oct. 4, 37-year-old Maletina Letele, a Sacramento resident, was arrested at San Francisco's Transbay Terminal on suspicion of assaulting her 35-year-old boyfriend. The trouble started an hour earlier when the couple purchased Greyhound tickets and headed to a nearby liquor store and bought booze to kill time before their bus left.

According to the Public Defender's Office, Latele sipped a vodka and cranberry cocktail, while her boyfriend chugged a bottle of malt liquor and a pint-and-a-half of vodka.

By the time they returned to the bus station, her boyfriend's face had turned red as he became belligerent, pushing Latele's hand away when she tried to guide him across the street. He also accused her of flirting with a passersby.

Back at the station, a man began chatting with Latele, which made her intoxicated boyfriend shout profanities. Latele's boyfriend then asked her to go back to the store to get more alcohol. Latele refused to go, informing him their bus would arrive in 10 minutes.

The boyfriend started yelling about wanting to go to the store, but Latele continued refusing his demands. Her boyfriend then lied down on the floor of the crowded station, started cursing again, and then lit a cigarette. The bickering continued until the bus arrived a few minutes later.

The real trouble started when Latele told her boyfriend to get up and he refused. She was frustrated and yelled: "You need to get up, the bus is here." Her boyfriend refused to get up. Latele extended her arms to help him up, but he turned away. She extended her arms a second time, and this time, her boyfriend took them, but purposefully fell backward.

After offering to help him up several more times, her boyfriend finally grabbed Latele's hands and she peeled him off the floor.

Meanwhile, a woman who had been watching this dramatic scene called 911 to report a possible assault. She told the cops that Latele may have kicked her boyfriend in the head.

When officers arrived, they arrested Latele on suspicion of assault and domestic violence. She was booked into San Francisco County Jail, where she remained until her acquittal yesterday.

During the three-day trial, the 911 caller took the stand where she seemed to change her story; she said she wasn't sure she had seen any physical violence, just an alarming situation. The arresting officer also testified, admitting that after talking to Latele and her boyfriend, he was still unsure if there had been an assault. The officer also interviewed a second witness, he said, who reported that the couple had been in a verbal disagreement only.

"This case perfectly illustrates that things are not always as they appear," said Deputy Public Defender Jennifer Noryko. "The 911 caller heard yelling and saw man lying on the ground, so she did the right thing by erring on the side of caution and contacting police. However, the jury was able to see the entire picture and determined no crime occurred."

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